I promised to keep readers up to date with Danone’s defence of the claims that they are making for their yoghurt products which they suggest stimulate the immune system and therefore make you less likely to suffer from infections.
This doesn’t sound a totally implausible claim to me. It could well be the case that exposing the body to a wider range of micro-organisms leads to the production of more antibodies which in turn could increase your level of protection. If you have had any dealings with the immune system you wouldn’t put anything past it.
This claim is one that can be studied and tested. All you would have to do would be to give the yoghurt to a large group of people and then monitor how sick they got compared to a similar group of people who didn’t get the yoghurt. Such a trial would be expensive, but not unaffordable by a company with huge revenues like Danone.
And you can see why doing a trial would be helpful. Last year the ASA in the UK made them withdraw a television advert which it felt made claims that could not be substantiated. There is also new legislation in the EU requiring claims to be approved by a recently formed body called the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Danone had submitted its claim to this body, but the latest news is that it has suddenly withdrawn the application.
It seems like they aren’t confident of the claim that they have been making after all. It reminds me of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where on meeting resistance, King Arthur issues the order ‘Run Away!’. It is a shame that they aren’t prepared to go through with it. It has to increase public cynicism about the claims made by large companies for their products, which of course is something that the beauty industry is just as prone to as the health food one.